Natasha - Example of a Psychiatric Treatment Failure?

April 26, 2011 Natasha Tracy

I write at HealthyPlace about the problems associated with living with bipolar disorder, and let’s face it, there are many. I also talk about the problems with the treatment of bipolar disorder, and yes, there are many of those too.

But just because I recognize issues, discuss genuine, painful emotion and make loud an inner voice that among most people is strangled, doesn’t mean my treatment has been a failure. Just because I’m not “all better,” that doesn’t mean treatment doesn’t work.

When I Started Treatment

I don’t like to think about it much, but when I started treatment things were very bad. I cried all day, every day. I went to counseling, sometimes more than weekly, seeing no change. I was overcome by a profound desire for death that expressed itself with razor blades.


I. Was. A. Mess. A soon-to-be dead mess, at that.

Treatment wasn’t a lightning rod of brilliance reshaping my existence. It was more like a lightening rod of nausea redefining the word “headache.” But, you know, nothing’s perfect.

What Did Treatment Do?

Treatment made it possible for me to limp through university and earn a bachelors degree in computer science; many people with a well brain couldn’t get that far. And eventually, after many misses, I did get a hit, and for the first time in years I experienced pleasure.

And honestly, my personal biography is fairly impressive.* Tech companies, instant promotions, sent world-wide to represent a company, working for one of the most-prestigious tech companies in the world, skydive coaching, paragliding, SCUBA-certified.

And on, and on, and on.

During some of those things my bipolar was pretty out-of-control. During some of them it wasn’t. Not the Earth, nor treatment, nor bipolar, stand still.

Treatment Failure

I’ve had many more treatment failures than successes, to be sure. Far more medications didn’t work than those that did. But working combinations, well, they stick around for a while, if not forever.

Bipolar Failure

“People get better from bipolar.” Yes. People do. Bipolar comes in all shapes and sizes. Depression comes in all shapes and sizes.

Some people are misdiagnosed and shouldn’t have been on meds in the first place, they go off meds and are fine. Some people get off meds over time and do fine. Some people will find a medication, stay on it and be fine for decades. Some people will have to struggle every day to do what others take for granted. Some people will have to find new medications every year or two when theirs stops working. For some people, medication will only ever get them to a “5” and never a “10” like everyone would want.


And on, and on, and on.

None of these scenarios define success and none define failure either. These scenarios are typical of medicine’s battle with any disease. Some people die during a heart transplant. Most are alive at one year. Most aren’t alive at ten years.

Outcomes vary. No one can tell you what group you’ll be in.

Natasha’s Treatment is a Failure?

So certainly, there are heaps of deleterious things bipolar has done to my life. But in case you were wondering, my razor blades are in the drawer. I write thousands of words weekly in technical and other fields. I have friends I love and friends that love me. I have marrow-sucking, neighborhood-disturbing sex.

And on, and on, and on.


I absolutely feel like a failure, sometimes. I absolutely feel treatment has been a failure, sometimes. I absolutely feel bipolar has destroyed me, sometimes.

But I’m human. And a contradictory one at that.

The facts of the case however, is I’ve done more with my life than most people, well or not. And through the agony, I continue to breathe. And there is no doubt in my mind treatment is responsible for that. Discussing the pain of this life is a part of me as a writer.

Call that a failure if you wish.

* I do apologize for the self-aggrandizement. It’s simply there to make a point.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, April 26). Natasha - Example of a Psychiatric Treatment Failure?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 14 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

April, 26 2011 at 5:06 pm

Your story is just that, my dear, with all its small victories and attendant suffering. Your greatest strength is that you "take on all comers" with their own experiences, both positive and negative, and rise above, challenge them to find their own insight and strength. Being on the BiPolar ride is always a "mixed-bag"; we're Pinatas of our own vulnerabilities and the Trojan Horses of our Victories. Very few liasons can be taken for granted in our lives; I do not have a lover, but I tend to guage my quality of intent by the relationships I have with my daughters. Sometimes I feel lonely and distant; in my best mode I can show up in their lives. Isolation and fear have disappeared, if only a short while. I measure out my life in coffee spoons. (apologies to T.S. Eliot and the Crash Test Dummies).
Yours is the Voice of a valued TouchStone within my life; my own Story. Keep doing what you're doing. I will pay attention. Student-to-Teacher, I will keep learning. Yours is less a Voice in the Wilderness as the tall trees that stand around you witness and listen to the Glade that you have found.
In this clearing, you are Singular and Beautiful.

April, 27 2011 at 1:52 am

can I tell you again how awesome your blog is?

April, 27 2011 at 6:33 am

Well said.
There are no answers, only us.

Natasha Tracy
April, 27 2011 at 6:46 am

Well Martha, I certainly wouldn't stop you :)
- Natasha

April, 27 2011 at 10:26 am

I too have been successful in education and work even through all my bipolar issues. My promary doctor is amazed at me. I have been an LPN for 25+ years and am going back to school for my RN. Bipolar which is quite hereditary in my family was a surprise to me when I was diagnosed. I went in for some testing before a gastric bypass surgery and they found it in the testing. Boy was I shocked!!! They say I have the mildest form of Type II there is along with ADD and PTSD and that I am highly functional for a person in my condition. They were surprised that I was even alive by that point. I still have to take my meds or I get really out of whack. I understand the crying all day. I have been there and done that a lot. Sometimes I can just be doing something like washing dishes and tears will start pouring down my face for no reason. The medication takes care of my mania times, but I continue on antidepressants as well because I have very deep lows, like you. Mild indeed. My brother and a first cousin have type 1. Because of the histroy of epilepsy in my family as well, I have to take trileptal. my brother is on seroquel. Not sure what my cousin is on. I have learned that you take one day at a time. One step at a time and do the best you can. I still hibernate (as my husband calls it) when I am in my lows. I become totally anti-social in that I want nothing to do with anyone. THose are my hibernating times when I sit in my room and read and read and read anything I can get my hands on with a large box of kleenex handy and a garbage can nearby. Is mine a sucess story or a story of a journey that is a rollercoaster of emotions that hit me at the most inconveninet times? I think of it as a journey that I have to deal with daily. I never know where this journey will end. Some days are really good and some days are really bad. Emotional eating is awful, thus the reason for the gastric bypass., so that can go down as well. TOo much!!! Thanks for blogging! I like knowing that I am not the only one.

April, 27 2011 at 1:23 pm

Wow. So many truths. Treatment is still helping me limp through getting educated. Sometimes.

Natasha Tracy
April, 28 2011 at 3:22 pm

Hi Luann,
Thanks for the comment.
"Is mine a sucess story or a story of a journey that is a rollercoaster of emotions that hit me at the most inconveninet times?"
I'd say success.
- Natasha

April, 29 2011 at 5:56 am

Hi Natasha,
Im seeing my Psychiatrist on Monday to review my meds.I have had 3 Psychiatrists,two G.Ps a number of medications that failed, and three different diagnoses.The latest being that I have BPD,along with Bipolar 1 and PTSD complex. The three diagnoses can go together. What I have experienced on meds,is yes they ease the pain,help me to concentrate at uni( when i do go ) but I'm still depressed,gained masses amount of weight.Nothing seems to work for me ? If there is a chance that I can get off meds I'm taking it I've had enough, I want my life back.

April, 29 2011 at 6:04 am

I meant to add that the above was over the last 5 years and the meds I have been on have been a mixture of three lots of meds at time, a mood stabilizer, antidepressant and anti-psychotic.

Natasha Tracy
April, 29 2011 at 3:07 pm

Hi Davida,
Finding the right medication or the right medication combination can be really difficult and I absolutely feel for you. You're sick and tired of being sick and tired. Many people have been where you are.
Talk to your doctor about finding a solution that works for you. If reducing or getting off meds works, then work with your doctor to find a safe way to do that. Just remember, you starting taking meds for a reason and that reason may be there waiting for you when you remove the medication.
Either way, I hope you're getting therapy too. Therapy can help with some of the issues you're facing emotionally and are a good support.
Good luck.
- Natasha

April, 30 2011 at 12:44 am

Thankyou Natasha,
What you said is spot on, I'm just fed up, and lets face it I have been known to make rash decisions I'm doing CBT and also seeing my psychiatrist she is really there for me and has shown she cares and listens to me, she is putting me on to a group therapy for bpd.
Natasha thanks for your help and guidence.
Much love

Natasha Tracy
April, 30 2011 at 10:37 am

Hi Davida,
Being fed up is pretty normal and making rash decisions isn't exactly unheard of either (particularly when someone is fed up).
Glad I could help.
- Natasha

Dr Musli Ferati
May, 1 2011 at 9:32 am

My professional practice had shown that the treatment of mental ill patient is just at border amid recover and failure of psychiatric medication. So that, eventual decrease of psycho-pathological symptoms always is accompanied with serious side effect of psychiatric drugs. Consequently, I am used to prescribe the minimal dose of remedies, even recommendations of optimal therapeutic doses foreseen from pharmacologist producer. This defect I try to compensate by psycho-social intervention, that in many cases given good results. This is my common therapeutic method, which in acute and emergent psychiatric cases may be unsuccessful. However, the main purpose of psychiatric treatment is the restoration of life functionality of mentally ill patient, which as it is known is damages in every psychological disturbances. This aim is support at whole psychiatrist establishment worldwide. It is other thing, if psychiatric patient are satisfied with this effort. Presumably, You ,Ms Tracy, are fallen in this trap, if indeed believed that had a psychiatric treatment failure.

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